This story has been updated with new information.
Tom Churchill, a developer of automated weather software used in the radio business, has died.
According to his friend and colleague Larry Fuss of Delta Radio in Mississippi, Churchill was 59 and died of melanoma at home in the Dominican Republic.
Among Churchill’s offerings was Digital Weatherman, which allowed stations to sell weather sponsorships and interfaced with station automation systems.
A bio on the Virtual Weatherman website states that Churchill was a native of Dubuque, Iowa, where he started in radio as a weatherman at WDBQ at age of 13 in 1974. Other articles online about his career stated that in the 1970s Churchill appeared on the “Tomorrow Show” with Tom Snyder and also won $16,000 on a TV game show.
“Tom worked for Channel 10 Television in Dubuque for several years as well as making guest appearances and regular on-air weathercasting duties on PBS, NBC, CBS and ABC from 1974 to 1983,” the Virtual Weatherman bio page continues, noting that Churchill’s forecasting acumen also was featured in national magazines.
“In 1979, Tom formed his first weather forecasting company providing live weathercasts to radio stations across the country. The Digital Weatherman system was developed in the late 1980s to extend his weather forecasting capabilities to hundreds of radio stations through the use of computer technology.”
According to a Wikipedia page about him, the PC-based system contains thousands of small audio cuts about weather conditions that could be merged into a customized forecast.
The Wikipedia account states that Churchill also provided forecasting services to a number of Hollywood movie productions filmed in and around the Dubuque area.
Broadcaster Larry Fuss was a sales agent for Churchill’s service for many years; Churchill in turn did engineering and IT work for Fuss at Delta’s radio stations in Greenville, Miss. “His weather service is still running and we are trying to figure out how we can keep it going,” Fuss told Radio World Monday. “However, much of the inner workings of Tom’s software was in his head. … I’m afraid much of his genius will be lost.”
Churchill had a BS in atmospheric physics and a minor in astronomy, according to the Virtual Weatherman site, which said he moved to the Caribbean in 2001.
Fuss said the family plans a memorial service for Churchill at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dubuque, Iowa on Wednesday.
Churchill’s sister Jennifer Shumacher told Radio World on Tuesday that his family hopes to bring his remains back from the Dominican Republic and has created a GoFundMe page to support that effort.